Baseball Preview: UCSB

Cal State Fullerton had their fourth straight successful week since their return from a trip to the south by winning a midweek game against Pepperdine and following that up with an important Big West series win against UC Irvine.

The Titans had twelve hits against Waves and they took advantage of six walks, three HBP's and five errors for an easy 13-3 win last Tuesday that was highlighted by nine runs in the 4th inning.  Five pitchers saw action for Fullerton with the win going to David HurlbutCarlos Lopez was the hitting star for the Titans with a three run HR and five RBI in the decisive nine run inning.  Richy Pedroza drove in three runs and Nick Ramirez, Tyler Pill, Lopez, Jared Deacon and Anthony Trajano all scored two runs apiece.

UC Irvine broke Fullerton's nine game winning streak last Friday in a series opening 15-3 rout.  There were plenty of lowlights for the Titans and one of the few highlights was a HR by Ramirez to break up a shutout by Matt Summers and RBI's by Matt Orloff and Michael Lorenzen, who also led Fullerton with two hits.

It was Fullerton's turn to break a winning streak on Saturday as the Titans won a 2-1 pitching duel to snap the Anteaters six game streak and tie the series.  Noe Ramirez led the way for Fullerton by throwing 7 2/3 outstanding innings and allowed only one run on seven hits with nine strikeouts to earn Big West co-pitcher of the week honors and his conference leading fifth win.  Dylan Floro retired the only batter that he faced and Nick Ramirez finished things off with a scoreless ninth for his Big West leading seventh save.  The Titans didn't have much offense in the game with only four hits.  Nick Ramirez drove in Ivory Thomas with a SF in the first inning to give Fullerton the lead and the Titans broke the tie in the fifth inning when Irvine was unable to convert a 6-4-3 DP and the throw got past the 1B, allowing Deacon to score what turned out to be the game winning run.

Sunday baseball usually has more offense than night games at Goodwin Field and that was the case in the final game of the series as Fullerton broke out of their hitting funk against UC Irvine pitching and broke open a close game to win 10-4 and win the series on national TV.  The Titans scored two runs early before the Anteaters took the lead with a four run fifth inning.  Fullerton came right back with four runs in the bottom of the fifth and the rally was highlighted by Lorenzen's three run triple.  The Titans put together another rally in the sixth with Lopez getting the key blow with a two run single.  Lorenzen had a monster game with 3 R, 3 RBI and one of the best catches you will ever see in the RF corner.  Lopez also had 3 RBI, Deacon had 2 RBI, Pill and Trajano each scored two runs and Blake Barber finished off the scoring with the first HR of his Titan career.  Floro was outstanding in relief and was the winning pitcher after allowing only three hits in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

Fullerton continued to play well by winning for the 16th time in 18 games in a 5-0 win on Tuesday at LMU.  Colin O'Connell was outstanding in holding the Lions to only two hits in six innings with four strikeouts and three relievers followed with a scoreless inning each to preserve the shutout.  The Titans jumped on LMU early with runs in each of the first three innings and that was the only scoring of the day.  Fullerton was led at the plate by three hits from Lopez as eight of the starters either scored and/or drove in a run in a balanced attack.

Fullerton looks to keep up their winning ways this weekend and extend their lead in the Big West standings in their second straight home series as the UCSB Gauchos pay a visit to Goodwin Field.

 

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos               

  • Overall Record – 13-13 in 2011; 23-30 in 2010
  • Conference Record – 2-1 in 2011; 10-14 in 2010 (5th).  
  • Post-Season – None
  • 2011 RPI/ISR – 112/99.  2010 RPI/ISR – 100/54
  • Current ranking – None
  • Predicted conf finish – 6th by the Big West coaches and Baseball America

 

2010 Summary and 2011 Preview

UCSB (13-13, 2-1) almost qualified for a regional in 2008 and was one of the last teams left out of the field after finishing tied for 3rd in the Big West but has slid back to mediocrity since then, going 28-23 (11-13, 5th) in 2009, 23-30 (10-14, 5th) in 2010 and starting out this season by winning half of their games.  The Gauchos thought they had the potential to be a sleeper in the conference race after losing only three players who started 30+ games and one of their starting pitchers but they have played at their usual middling level of the previous couple of seasons.

UCSB never really got going in 2010 and lost series at San Jose State, Stanford and Sacramento State and at home to New Mexico State (all 1-2 series losses) with their only non-conference series wins coming at home against Northern Illinois (4-0) and San Francisco (2-1).  The Gauchos won their Big West opening series with Cal Poly (2-1) and they proceeded to lose six straight conference series before sweeping their final series against Pacific during the Tigers collapse at the end of the season.

UCSB has played well at home this season with a 10-4 record against below average teams like La Salle (2-0), Sacramento State (2-1) and Nevada (2-0) but lost their series to San Jose State (1-2) when they blew a two run lead in the 9th inning of the opener.  The Gauchos bounced back to win a hard fought series with Cal Poly last weekend by splitting the first two games before winning the final game in 13 innings.  

UCSB has had trouble winning away from Caesar Uyesaka Stadium with a 3-9 record.  The Gauchos scored only four runs when they lost both games at frigid Washington State in temperatures that were well below freezing, lost two out of three in a tournament at AT&T Park when they only scored seven runs and lost two out of three at Oregon State when they did get their offense going enough to score 16 runs but their pitching didn't hold up when they allowed 17 runs in their two losses.  UCSB has also lost two of their three midweek road games and scored only eleven runs in those games, including a 3-2 loss at Northridge on Tuesday.

UCSB had the worst offense in the Big West in 2010 despite playing in one of the more favorable hitting parks in the conference and finished last in scoring, AVG and OBP and 8th in SLG.  The Gauchos offense has improved to the middle of the pack and they are 5th in scoring, 4th in AVG and 2nd in SLG.  UCSB will play for the big inning and doesn't play much little ball with two players accounting for 18 of their 26 SB's and they are last in the Big West in SAC's.  The Gauchos are aggressive at the plate and don't walk much and average under three walks per game (last in the conference) and swing for the fences (second in the Big West in strikeouts).  UCSB struck out 37 times in the Cal Poly series.

UCSB had the potential to have a decent pitching staff over the last couple of years but hasn't had much depth and haven't had any power arms besides Joe Gardner in 2009 and Mario Hollands in 2008-2010.  The staff ERA for the Gauchos was 5.56 in 2009 and 5.30 last season.  UCSB has pitched better with the new BBCOR bats helping them to bring their ERA down over a run per game to 3.83.  The Gauchos have had eight of their ten pitchers seeing regular action keep their ERA's under four but their weekend rotation has been inconsistent due to the lack of power arms and pitching to contact.  Most of their pitchers have solid control, averaging around three walks per game, but they have trouble putting hitters away and are 6th in the Big West in AVG and 8th in the conference in strikeouts.

 

Offense

    Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 115 (increases offense by 15%).  UCSB plays day games and the winds coming in from the ocean are usually blowing out to LF.
    Batting Average – .270 (4th in the Big West).  .276 in 2010 (9th in the Big West).
    Runs Per Game – 4.8 (5th).  5.6 in 2010 (9th).
    Home Runs – 9 (2nd).  43 in 2010 (5th).
    Slugging Percentage – .390 (2nd).  .414 in 2010 (8th).
    Walks – 69 (9th), 2.8 per game.  181 in 2010 (6th), 3.3 per game.
    HBP's – 19 (7th).  70 in 2010 (5th).
    Strikeouts – 208 (8th), 8.0 per game.  404 in 2010 (8th), 7.3 per game.
    Stolen Bases – 24-35 (6th).  59-78 in 2010 (4th).
    Sac Bunts – 16 (9th).  35 in 2010 (6th).

 

Infield

UCSB lost their starting C and SS and returns starters at the other three positions around the infield.

C – SR #21 Dan Camou (RH – .211/.286/.298, 0-7-0; '10 – 4-16) and FR #3 Joe Winterburn (RH – 9-30) have taken over behind the plate for two year starter Marty Mullins.  Camou was starting most of the time earlier but has gone into a 5-34 slump and Winterburn has been seeing more time recently and has been a little better offensively.  Whoever is behind the plate will hit 8th.

1B – SR #35 Trevor Whyte (LH – .292/.396/.371, 0-18-0; '10 – .304/.392/.443, 5-34-0) is in his second year as the starter, has been a solid run producer and is 10th in the Big West in RBI and 2B.  He leads the team in walks (solid 12/13 BB/K ratio) and has done a good job of getting on base and has failed to get on base in only three games.  Whyte has struggled recently and has gone 5-25 over the last seven games.   He will be hitting 5th.  Whyte went 1-10 against Fullerton last season.

2B – SR #10 Sean Williams (RH – .359/.398/.505, 1-13-1; '10 – .268/.373/.379, 2-17-4) started last year at 2B and is one the most improved players in the Big West and one of the frontrunners for All Big-West honors at 2B.  He is 2nd in the conference in AVG and among the Big West leaders in H, R, TB, SLG and TB but has cooled off a bit and gone hitless in his last two games with five strikeouts.  Williams handles the bat well and led the team with 10 SAC's in 2010 but there hasn't been much need for him to bunt this season.  He will be batting 3rd.  Williams went 2-10 with one RBI against Fullerton last season.

SS – FR #16 Brandon Trinkwon (LH – .260/.309/.360, 1-5-0) and Soph #3 Steven Moon (RH – .231/.273/.365, 0-9-0; '10 – 1-19) have split time at SS in taking over for two year starter Matt Valaika.  Moon was starting almost every game for the first month of the season but Trinkwon started eight straight games before Moon got a start in the midweek game at Northridge on Tuesday.  Moon is a little ahead of Trinkwon defensively but Trinkwon has a much better bat and is also a LH hitter.  Trinkwon started out hot, including hitting a HR at the tournament at AT&T Park, but has cooled off and gone 3-23 the last two weeks.  Trinkwon will be hitting 2nd.

3B – JR #17 Ryan Palermo (RH – .250/.277/.364, 0-13-1; ‘10 – .245/.311/.377, 3-25-0) is in his second year as a starter.  He got off to a good start and is 4th in the Big West in 2B but has cooled off lately and is 9 for his last 47.  Palermo has a big swing and has struck out almost 25% of the time.  He will be batting 6th.  Palermo went 2-10 against Fullerton last season but did have a good game in UCSB's win when he got both of his hits and drove in a run.

DH – SR #22 Beck Wheeler (RH – 6-24; '10 – .297/.326/.424, 2-22-0) and JR #8 Lance Roenicke (RH – .260/.315/.340, 0-3-1; '10 – .196 in 51 AB's) have split time at DH with Roenicke getting more of the starts earlier in the season when Wheeler was out of the lineup.  Roenicke has trouble making contact and has struck out 19 times in only 50 AB's.  Wheeler started most of the time last season and has been playing more recently and went 2-9 last weekend, including the game and series winning RBI single in the 13th inning last Sunday against Cal Poly.  Roenicke is a backup OF and Wheeler is a backup IF.  Whoever is the DH will be hitting 9th.



Outfield

UCSB returned only their RF from last season and brought in a JC transfer to start in LF and has been using part-time players from 2010 in CF.

LF – JC transfer #40 Joe Wallace (RH – .236/.330/.416, 3-13-7) is a good athlete who has been inconsistent in his adjustment to D1 pitching.  He was on a 3-30 skid before going on a 8-22 run, went 1-11 two weekends ago against San Jose State and then turned it around when he went 5-12 against Cal Poly and hit a game winning 3 run HR last Saturday and had two more hits at Northridge on Tuesday.  Part of the reason that Wallace is inconsistent is he has a big swing and leads the team and is 5th in the Big West with 26 K's.  Wallace is tied for 3rd in the Big West in HR and is 5th in SB. 

CF – SR #7 Ben Edelstein (RH – .238/.303/.288, 0-3-4; '10 – .344 in 64 AB's, 2-10-6) and SR #29 Derek Eligio (RH – .167 in 24 AB's; '10 – .277 in 47 AB's) have been sharing time with Edelstein getting most of the starts.  Edelstein has better speed than Eligio and is more likely to run on the bases.  Edelstein has been in a 5-35 slump and has had issues with making contact and Eligio has started the last three games, going 2-11 with an HR last Saturday.  Whoever is starting will be hitting leadoff.

RF – SR #25 Mark Haddow (RH – .358/.446/.600, 3-23-10; '10 – .273/.373/.419, 6-26-17; '09 – .298/.371/.521, 5-25-10) is probably the best athlete on team and has been watched by the scouts for a while due to his power/speed combination.  Before going hitless Tuesday at Northridge he had hits in six straight games and 12 out of 13, when he went 20-50 with 16 RBI, and went 12-23 with 8 RBI the last two weekends.  Haddow leads the Big West in SLG, TB and 3B and is among the conference leaders in AVG, R, H, HR, RBI, OBP and SB and is the biggest threat in the lineup.  He has a big swing and has struck out between 25%-30% of the time over the last three seasons.  Haddow is the cleanup hitter.  He went 3-11 last season against Fullerton with all three hits coming in UCSB's win.


Defense

Fielding % – .967 (7th) with 33 errors.  2010 – .968 (6th) with 67 errors.
UCSB plays on an uneven playing surface that is known for being difficult for infielders to get true bounces on grounders. The Gauchos are average around the infield with Williams their best infielder and Palermo has made too many errors at 3B.  They have good speed in the OF with good athletes in the corner OF spots.

Stolen Base Attempts – 13-21 (2nd).  2010 – 59-72 (7th).

UCSB has done a much better job of slowing down the running game this season, especially with help from the pitchers.  The Gauchos have picked off eight runners to lead the Big West.   

WP's/PB's Allowed – 20 (2nd).  2010 – 26 (1st).

Camou is better at blocking pitches than Winterburn so Fullerton will be more aggressive at taking extra bases on Winterburn with balls in the dirt.

 

Pitching

    ERA – 3.83 (5th in the Big West).  5.30 in 2010 (4th in the Big West).
    BA – .270 (6th).  .307 in 2010 (5th).
    BB's/9 IP – 2.9 (1st).  2.8 in 2010 (2nd).
    K's/9 IP – 5.9 (8th).  5.7 in 2010 (8th).
    Extra Base Hits – 54 (3rd), 2.1 per game.  165 (2nd), 3.0 per game in 2010.
    HR – 5 (2nd).  50 HR in 2010 (8th).

 

Starters

FRI – SR #28 Jesse Meaux (RHP – 2-3, 4.36 ERA, 7 starts, 43 IP, 50 H, 10 BB, 22 K, .298 BA, 2 HR, 6 HBP, 5 WP, 5-7 SB; '10 – 8-3, 4.41 ERA, 18 apps, 14 GS, 2 CG, 3 saves, 98 IP, 123 H, 18 BB, 39 K, .307 BA, 7 HR, 8 HBP, 4 WP, 14-15 SB) is a control specialist who doesn't throw hard and relies on keeping the ball down.  When he is off and has to get too much of the plate, he is prone to giving up hits.  Meaux has not gotten out of the sixth inning in his last three starts at Oregon State (4 2/3 IP, 4 R, 6 H, 3 BB, 1 K), vs. San Jose State (5 1/3 IP, 3 R, 10 H, 0 BB, 1 K) and vs. Cal Poly (5 2/3 IP, 6 R, 7 H, 3 BB, 4 K).  He has not pitched well in his career against Fullerton and has allowed 14 R (12 ER) on 17 H in 9 IP in four appearances against the Titans.

SAT – SR #34 Greg Davis (RHP – 3-1, 3.38 ERA, 10 apps, 5 GS, 3 saves, 37 IP, 36 H, 10 BB, 18 K, .261 BA, 1 HR, 5 HBP, 5 WP, 3-6 SB; '10 – 2-2, 4.91 ERA, 20 apps, 7 GS, 1 CG, 0 saves, 55 IP, 66 H, 14 BB, 47 K, .293 BA, 2 HR, 6 HBP, 2 WP, 13-17 SB) was primarily a middle reliever and midweek SP last season who threw well in relief but struggled with throwing extended innings as a starter.  He has been a swingman and started most weekends but has also been the closer in midweek games.  Davis threw well in a no decision against Rice in the tournament at AT&T Park (7 1/3 IP, 1 R, 9 H, 2 BB, 1 K) and in a win at Oregon State (5 1/3 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) but blew the save in Meaux's start vs. San Jose State (2/3 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 2 BB) and wasn't sharp against Cal Poly (6 1/3 IP, 4 R, 6 H, 5 BB, 2 K).

SUN – JC transfer #27 Matthew Vedo (RHP – 3-4, 4.84 ERA, 9 apps, 8 GS, 1 CG, 1 save, 45 IP, 43 H, 26 BB, 31 K, .269 BA, 0 HR, 10 HBP, 2 WP, 0-2 SB) is the hardest thrower of the three SP's with a low 90's fastball.  He is also the most inconsistent and has put 36 runners on base by walks or HBP's in only 45 IP.  Vedo threw well in four of his first five starts and had a 2.56 ERA, including a near no-hitter against Nevada (9 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K) when he didn't give up a hit until the 9th inning.  He struggled in his next two starts at Oregon State (1 1/3 IP, 6 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 1 K) and San Jose State (4 2/3 IP, 7 R, 10 H, 6 BB, 1 K) but threw better against Cal Poly (7 IP, 4 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 5 K).


Relievers

UCSB has an experienced bullpen with four pitchers returning from 2010, although a couple of them were starters last season so those two pitchers have the ability to go several innings.

Closer – SR #23 Nick Loredo (RHP – 3-1, 3.90 ERA, 11 apps, 5 GS, 4 saves, 30 IP, 39 H, 5 BB, 26 K, .322 BA, 0 HR, 4 HBP, 1 WP, 1-1 SB; '10 – 0-5, 7.28 ERA, 18 apps, 6 GS, 2 saves, 56 IP, 75 H, 16 BB, 24 K, .329 AVG, 10 HR, 8 HBP, 1 WP, 0-1 SB) was in the weekend rotation early in 2010 but after some poor starts was moved into a long relief role.  He has been much more effective this season as the closer and a midweek SP.  Loredo has allowed 1 R on 6 H in 6 2/3 IP in six relief appearances.  He is questionable for this weekend with a broken jaw after missing his start on Tuesday at Northridge.  Loredo allowed 1 R and 3 H in 2 IP in one appearance against Fullerton in 2010.

SR #20 Nick Capito (LHP – 2-2, 3.54 ERA, 13 apps, 1 GS, 1 save, 28 IP, 22 H, 9 BB, 20 K, .218 BA, 1 HR, 6 HBP, 1 WP, 2-3 SB, 5 runners picked off;  '10 – 4-6, 7.09 ERA, 18 apps, 13 GS, 2 CG, 72 IP, 106 H, 19 BB, 42 K, .349 AVG, 13 HR, 11 HBP, 0 WP, 12-16 SB) was in the weekend rotation most of 2010 but like Loredo he has been much more effective out of the bullpen this season.  He got off to a very slow start and allowed 9 R in his first 9 IP but has only allowed 4 R (3 ER) in his last 19 IP and was very effective in his two most recent outings when he got a spot start against San Jose State (5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) and an extended relief outing to get the win in extra innings against Cal Poly (5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K).   It will be difficult to steal on Capito because he has picked off five runners.  Capito was battered by the Fullerton hitters in his start last year and allowed 14 runs in 4 2/3 IP.

SR # 31 Bryce Uhrig (RHP – 1-1, 2.76 ERA, 19 apps, 16 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 13 K, .160 BA, 0 HR, 4 HBP, 0 WP, 1-1 SB) has been a workhorse out of the bullpen and has appeared in 11 of the last 13 games.  He usually only goes an inning or so when he comes into the game and has allowed runs in only three of his 16 appearances, including his most recent outing when he blew the save at Northridge with Loredo and Capito unavailable to pitch.

JC transfer #18 Zak Edgington (LHP – 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 8 apps, 1 GS, 16 IP, 16 H, 5 BB, 5 K)  got a spot start on Tuesday at Northridge after seeing only limited action previously and threw an outstanding game, leaving with the lead (8+ IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K).

Others – these three are likely to only face 1-2 hitters when they come into the game.

JR #30 Matthew Brady (RHP – 0-1, 1.93 ERA, 13 apps, 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 K; '10 – 0-1, 3.86 ERA, 16 apps, 23 IP, 23 H, 13 BB, 8 K)

SR #41 Connor Whalen (LHP – 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 10 apps, 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 5 K; '10 – 1-1, 4.00 ERA, 24 apps, 18 IP, 24 H, 15 BB, 21 K)

Fr #12 Cameron Cuneo (LHP – 0-0, 1.29 ERA, 11 apps, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K)

 

Outlook

Fullerton has been dominant at home this season and the Titans have won 12 of their last 14 games at Goodwin Field.  UCSB has been below average on the road in going 3-9 away from home.

UCSB's offense is improved and Fullerton doesn't have the offensive firepower that they had in 2010 but the Gauchos have had issues scoring on the road, averaging 3.6 runs per game, while the Titans have been averaging almost seven runs per game after the opening weekend of the season.

Fullerton has much better pitching than UCSB.  The Gauchos have also had an improved pitching staff but don't have the arms that the Titans do.  Fullerton's team ERA aside from the LSU series is 2.11 and games like last Friday's have been few and far between and UCSB doesn't have the plate discipline that UC Irvine has.

Fullerton has traditionally had their way with UCSB and has won eight of the last nine series they have played against the Gauchos, primarily because the Titans have usually had the better team.  Fullerton is a prohibitive favorite to win this series and the only time they have had trouble with UCSB the last three seasons was when Mario Hollands was pitching against them when he won two of his starts at home and nearly a third at Fullerton.  The Titans should win at least two games this weekend, if not all three against the Gauchos.